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Hotel Review: The Langham Chicago

by on June 30, 2014 · 21 comments

in Hotel Reviews, Langham Hotels, Lifestyle

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While hosting my latest TPG Reader Meet-Up in Chicago last weekend, I was supposed to stay at the W Lakeshore Chicago, but when checking in at 5pm, I was told that 2 out of 3 rooms were not available and that my suite wouldn’t be available until 9pm or so. I had a live TV interview to prepare for and dinner plans, so I was not pleased with the poor service at the W and their attitude was less than conciliatory- they simply blamed ongoing construction for the mix-up and didn’t offer compensation, until I asked and then they finally agreed to pay for dinner- which wasn’t an option since I already had plans.

Needless to say, I took to Twitter and asked for recommendations and I got multiple recommendations to stay at the Langham Chicago, so I fired up Hotels.com via the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, which is currently offering 3 points per dollar and made a reservation in a Club Room King for $472 a night. While not cheap, I’d be getting 10% back via hotels.com’  loyalty program that awards one free night for every 10. I also paid with my Chase Sapphire Preferred Card in order to earn 2.14 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar, so in addition to the 3x for going through the portal, I was getting 5.35 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent, which is like an additional 11.2% back, since I value Ultimate Rewards points at 2.1 cents a piece (conservatively).
hotels dot com UR 3x

 

The Langham Chicago is a high-end, business-traveler-friendly property set in a downtown skyscraper along North Wabash Avenue, where The Loop meets the Magnificent Mile. Truly, I can’t say enough good things about this hotel – but I’ll try!

The Langham Chicago is set amidst the city's Magnificent Mile (Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

The Langham Chicago is set amidst the city’s Magnificent Mile (Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

Langham Hotels date back to 1865, when the luxury chain’s flagship property opened in London’s Marylebone district. There are now 13 Langham properties (mostly in Asia), with three hotels in the U.S. – Pasadena, Boston, and this one in Chicago. (Chain affiliates include Langham Place properties [one in New York City], Eaton Hotels, and Shanghai’s 88 Xintiandi.)

The Langham’s loyalty program, 1865, has four status tiers: Explorer, Gateway, Voyager and Destiny, the latter of which is offered by invitation only. Explorer status is automatic, while the Gateway level requires a total of three stays and Voyager a total of five stays, both within 12 consecutive months. The 1865 program doesn’t earn you points, but it does have 25 airline partners that allow you to accrue miles for your stay.

Langham's 1865 loyalty program has four status tiers

Langham’s 1865 loyalty program has four status tiers.

 

Just in case you can't find what you're looking for at the Langham's Club Lounge,l you can have a look through the telescope

If you can’t find what you’re looking for out the Club Lounge’s floor-to-ceiling windows, you can have a look through the brass telescope

Hotel Overview

Occupying the first 13 floors of the landmark IBM Building, a 52-story skyscraper designed by famous 20th-century architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places, The Langham Chicago is a relatively new property that opened in July 2013. The hotel has 268 guestrooms and 48 suites, all offering wide views of downtown, the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. Its on-site Mediterranean restaurant, Travelle, was designed by architect and interior designer David Rockwell, whose other projects include JFK’s Jet Blue Terminal 5. The fitness area includes a 67-foot-long indoor swimming pool, and the sprawling Chuan Spa is well worth a visit (more on that in a minute).

The Langham Chicago's lobby, on the building's 39th floor

The lobby of the Langham Chicago at ground level on North Wabash Avenue.

The elegant, glassy lobby has a soaring ceiling, gold beaded curtains and a huge marble head sculpture. Area rugs absorb sound and keep seating areas pretty quiet, making this a decent place to have a brief meeting …

Just another cozy corner with a view (and a typewriter) at The Langham Chicago's Club Lounge

Just another cozy corner with a view (and a typewriter) at The Langham Chicago’s Club Lounge

The Langham Club Lounge

… that is, if you don’t have access to the amazing Langham Club Lounge, my favorite feature of the hotel. Located way up on level 12C (floor 13), this 4,000 square-foot modern beauty features what seems like a mile’s worth of white marble, and in some areas, dark wood floors. And just in case you can’t see what you’re looking for at first glance out of the floor-to-ceiling windows, there’s a shiny brass telescope at your disposal. Club guests can check in and out via the lounge’s private registration desk, and in case you’ve already had to check out of your room in advance of a late-night flight, there’s a master bathroom with a changing area available. If you want to get some work done outside of your own room, a cool, quiet little Writer’s Corner has a reading library and two computer workstations/desks.

Dining area at The Langham Chicago's Club Lounge

Dining area at The Langham Chicago’s Club Lounge.

I was especially wowed by the food service at the Club Lounge. Most of the dining area’s tables and white-leather chairs are lined up alongside an impressive view of the city and the Chicago River. The complimentary breakfast buffet offers anything from a little fruit to a fresh-made omelette with bacon, as well as all the custom-made espresso drinks your nervous system can handle.

The Club Lounge's all-day spread

The Club Lounge’s all-day spread of fruit, chips, candy and more.

In the afternoon they serve an English-style tea, and all day long Club guests have access to a wide variety of snacks – from healthy to, let’s say, less healthy.

The none-too-shabby Club Lounge bar

The none-too-shabby Club Lounge bar.

Each evening, they serve a selection of warm canapés and put out a great bar selection so that Club guests can have cocktails by the lounge’s fireplace.

The Langham Club Lounge's amazing sushi and shrimp cocktail selection

The Langham Club Lounge’s amazing sushi selection.

The sushi selection and shrimp cocktail spread offered in the early evening was simply mind-blowing. I’m not 100% convinced I didn’t eat my body weight in rolls. Or shrimp. Or both.

My King Club Room (127) on the Langham Chicago's top floor

My Club Grand Room (127) on the Langham Chicago’s top floor.

Accommodations

Elite status within the Langham’s 1865 loyalty program doesn’t gain you access to the Club Lounge - only booking a Club level room or suite will get you there. My own Langham Club Grand Room (127), was on the hotel’s top floor, and came with a King bed and perks like comped in-room Wifi, valet service packing and unpacking (which is about the most decadent service this frequent traveler has experienced), tailored concierge service for arranging reservations, garment pressing (up to three items), and use of the hotels car service for local travel, subject to availability.

The bathroom in my King Club Room

The bathroom in my Club Grand Room.

The huge bathroom was paved in yet more marble (as well as granite and Travertine limestone), and featured a rain shower, a full bathtub (or at least what would be a full bathtub for a shorter person) and amenities from the hotel’s on-site Chuan Spa.

The 55" LCD-HD TV and writing desk in my Club Grand Room

The 55″ LCD-HD TV and writing desk in my Club Grand Room.

My room also came with a 55″ LCD HD TV, an espresso maker,  a writing desk, and a city view. Here’s a quick video I shot of my room:

When you’re a Club Level guest at the Langham, you spend a lot of time traveling to the hotel’s 12th and 13th floors in its mirrored, Art Deco-style elevators. Fortunately, these are really cool – a little like being in an elegant funhouse.

Yours truly in The Langham Chicago's mirrored, Deco-style elevators

Yours truly in The Langham Chicago’s mirrored, Deco-style elevators – why so serious?

The Chuan Spa

During my stay, I treated myself to a couple hours at the Chuan Spa, a 22,000-square-foot urban sanctuary of pampering, and would highly recommend the experience to all visitors. The Chuan Spa features a 67-foot swimming pool and workout center, and follows the principles of traditional Chinese medicine. Before your treatment(s), you’re given a brief questionnaire to help you and your massage therapist or aesthetician determine which of five different elements are out of balance in your body. Then you get to indulge in a Chuan Bathing Ritual, where you wander through a handful of different rooms, including a salt-paved sauna and a chamomile-scented steam room. The treatment room for my Chuan Body Elements massage-and-scrub treatment (1 and 1/2 hours, $245) was sizable, and when I finally tore myself away from the spa, I felt extremely relaxed.

Overall Impression

In case it’s not yet clear, I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at The Langham Chicago. I thought every aspect of the service was stellar, and every time I came back to the hotel I felt welcomed as though I was home. I’d wholeheartedly recommend a stay here on your next trip to Chicago, especially if you can snag a room or suite at the Club level.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Joe

    Wow, a great property. Was the club level worth the upcharge? Maybe this will help you move beyond SPG or the other big programs now.

  • stvr

    Strange post about a non-points-earning property from someone called the “points” guy

  • Chrissy

    I stayed at the London Langtham — great afternoon tea! Very friendly and great service. The London one is located off Regent next to the BBC in Soho. Closest Underground station is Oxford Circus.

  • thepointsguy

    Read the post and you’ll see I actually did earn a bunch of points and you can earn airline miles with Langham as well.

  • thepointsguy

    Club level was great- awesome breakfast, open bar/snacks all day and really impressive cocktail spread. You could probably knock two meals out per day if you were really trying to maximize!

  • jettyboy

    I fail to understand how this is an example of “making the most of your travel points” as your banner proudly states. There are many other points-based options available in downtown Chicago, so for a website that touts the use of points and miles to make a reservation for a room for ~$500/night seems to make no sense to me.

  • ryan

    I concur with the others that springing $400+ for a hotel stay is out-of-line for TPG. My motto when travelling is to not pay anything and I’m sure in Chicago there were plenty of points options.

  • Katrina

    Sometimes you just want something different! There’s nothing wrong with that. The first time I stayed, I went for just one night and was greeted by name as I approached the desk to check out. Totally sold.

    I haven’t stayed in a club room in Chicago yet — I keep up my Voyager status and for the very short trips I make to Chicago, it’s added plenty of additional luxuries (including an extra nice early check in and 6pm check out). One of these days I’ll spring for a club level room… everyone’s raving about them!

  • PE

    I enjoyed this review. I don’t understand the negativity about paying to stay at this hotel. You have to earn points in order to later use them. This is a nice example of how to maximize earning even with a bit of a pricey stay.

  • thepointsguy

    I’ve tried out most Chicago stays and wanted something different and higher end, so the Langham made sense for me. Not every trip needs to be fully paid for on points.

  • thepointsguy

    I sometimes enjoy luxury hotel stays that are not typical chain hotels. Plus, Langham does actually gives miles and there are ways to maximize (like Hotels.com and using Sapphire Preferred) that I thought it would make sense to remind readers about those options.

  • John

    He makes a million dollars from the readers who apply through his credit card links. $500 is chump change, that’s 2 credit card applications. He has thousands of people applying through his links :)

  • Evelyn Hernandez

    Thanks for this detailed and awesome review, I am looking to book for the Christmas Holidays and wasnt sure if the upgrade to Club Level was worth it, you just helped me decide! Thanks :)

  • jeff

    TPG – Great meeting you in the club at the Langham during breakfast on Saturday. Great review… Hope to see you on the road again soon.

  • Marlene

    Staying here end of July and super excited. My friend moved to chicago to be sales director at this property! Makes it far more affordable for me!!

  • taryn

    I had stayed in the Chicago Trump for Thanksgiving and the Langham is right next door. My first Trump room overlooked the river, then I upgraded to a suite and it had a northwest view … and I could see into the Langham next door and the rooms looked really great. The Trump is all Trump-glitz and Trump-glamor, and I have to say it’s a great hotel, but the Langham looks super classy. How would you rate the quiet level of the room? Did you hear any sounds from neighboring rooms or the hallway?

  • taryn

    jettyboy, it says “maximize your travel points” on the banner, and it appears TPG did just that.

  • Barb

    Where did u end up going to dinner? Great pictures. Thanks for the event that Sunday!

  • thepointsguy

    Rooms were super quiet- never heard a peep, not even from the hallway

  • http://www.theluxurytravelexpert.com/ the Luxury Travel Expert

    I loved the Langham Chicago during my recent stay! I also wrote a trip report about it on my blog: http://theluxurytravelexpert.com/2014/06/04/hotel-review-the-langham-urban-sophistication-in-chicago-usa/ (made a youtube clip as well). Too bad we did not meet :-).

  • taryn

    Excellent! Langham tops my list now.

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